I sat in the early service Sunday morning and I felt good. My usual defensive posture wasn’t entirely gone, but it felt distant. The liturgical reading for World Communion was taken from a poem, and I loved the words. Even my son’s teenage I-Don’t-Want-To-Be-Here slouch felt normal.
As I wrote in my journal and listened to my husband preach, I realized this makes two Sundays in a row that I have felt safe in church. Granted, both of these Sundays involved my husband giving the sermon, but they were at two different churches. The first one was a little country church that felt so much like home. I couldn’t help but relax there. Every hymn was familiar, lyrics I grew up singing from the pages of a red Baptist hymnal.
I don’t think the hymns or the location or even my husband made the biggest difference though.
I think the change began with confession.
I am fascinated by churches that do community similar to AA meetings. If you aren’t familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous, I will tell you that it involves a lot of confession. The very first of the twelve steps is to admit you are powerless over alcohol – that your life has become unmanageable. I love the idea of a church where we are that kind of honest with one another.
Over the last few months of transition, the Middle Places community has been my theological version of AA. Weekly, I share something here on the blog. I have to sit down and think about what to write, about how to word what I am living. I look for ways that what I am struggling with might help someone else. Then I open up a Word document, and I confess.
I confess my fears, my struggles, my anger, my bitterness… I confess that my life feels unmanageable; my faith feels unmanageable. And then I talk about what I wrote once people read it. Some of you comment on the blog or Facebook and some of you send me private messages and emails. Before I know it, a week has passed, and I am back to the keyboard, digging into my week of experiences, confessing all over again.
This is more than blogging for me. This is accountability. This is transparency. This is community.
This is where I stumble through the first step toward restoration, again and again.
You don’t work the twelve steps and then you are done. Voila! All fixed. You have to keep working them, keep counting and trying and failing and starting over. Restoration isn’t an overnight process. It is slow and meticulous and often painful.
Thank you for coming to this meeting with me, for sitting in this circle and opening your own wounds in response to mine.
Now, step two… I’m ready to believe a higher power can restore me to sanity. I maybe sort of somewhat already believe it’s true. Some days I don’t. Some days, I believe I am hopeless, and I must return to step one. Take a breath. Start again.
Will you keep walking with me? One step at a time?
*originally published on Middle Places